Monday, January 23, 2017

The Chases of England, Massachusetts, and Ocracoke

Captain Elisha Chase, born March 13, 1790, in Swansea, Massachusetts, was descended from a long line of New England sea captains and businessmen. His great-great-great-grandfather, William Chase (1621-1684), had emigrated from Chesham, England, to Yarmouth, Massachusetts, about 1642. His uncles, Aquila Chase II (1618-1670) and Thomas Chase (b. 1616) had moved to New England several years earlier.

Elisha Chase (1790-1844)


During his sailing career Elisha Chase occasionally anchored his vessel at Ocracoke. There he met and fell in love with Thurza Howard (1803-1835). They were married February 14, 1821. 

In 1834 Elisha and Thurza Chase sold their island property to Thurza’s brothers. With their three children, Elisha and Thurza left Ocracoke, and joined a wagon train heading west. Thurza died en route; Elisha and his three children settled in Callaway County, Missouri, where Elisha soon became a merchant in the town of Portland, Auxvasse Township. In 1866 a connection was established between the H & L Chase company of Boston (“importers, manufacturers and dealers in bags & bagging,”) and St. Louis, Missouri. The Boston Directory for the year commencing July 1, 1870, lists 160 individuals or businesses with the name "Chase."

A number of notable individuals were member of the Chase family, including lawyers, politicians, and clergymen. Salmon Portland Chase (1808 – 1873), Elisha's 6th cousin, served as the sixth Chief Justice of the United States from 1864 to 1873. Earlier in his career, he had served as the 23rd Governor of Ohio and a U.S. Senator from Ohio. Under Abraham Lincoln Salmon P. Chase served as the 25th Secretary of the Treasury. I am reminded of him every time I pull a $10,000 bill from my wallet.

According to Mental Floss, " When the federal government started issuing greenback notes in 1861, Chase, as Secretary of the Treasury, was in charge of designing and popularizing the new currency. The politically ambitious Chase had to pick a portrait subject for the first $1 bill, and he chose Salmon P. Chase.

"Although putting his face in everyone's pocketbooks never propelled Chase to the presidency, when the Treasury started issuing the new $10,000 bills in 1928 they put Chase's portrait on the obverse to honor the man who helped introduce modern banknotes.

"Even if you don't have a $10,000 bill Chase's name might still be in your wallet. Chase National Bank, the forerunner to Chase Manhattan Bank, was named in his honor."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Ellen Marie Cloud's first person account of the "Great Ocracoke Lighthouse Windows Heist." You can read it here:


  1. When I pull a $10,000 bill out of my wallet, I see my ancestor John Robinson on the back.

  2. Anonymous8:12 AM

    When I see U S currency electronically reproduced on the Internet my jaw drops open and I question the true purpose of such actions. I wonder who is on the Bit coin.

  3. Anonymous5:47 PM

    let me know where you can find a real 10,000 bill or even a 1,000 bill...I tried my best to get a hold a either one a few years back. no luck. they are only used for interbanking. or Iranian deals!. I suppose some are available at trade shows..anyway I had no luck I getting one.